that one time that I made ten million freezer meals.
Or okay, maybe like twenty. Let’s just say that it FELT like ten million at the time, and with the way our freezer is bursting at the seams, it most likely thinks the same.
A bunch of you asked for more details on my freezer meals, so ask and you shall receive! I figured I better get to this since I’m about to pop – and figured even more so that it would be a good idea to break it into two parts: [part one] what I did now – and in a few weeks/months – [part two] if it was all worth it.
Let’s get on to my wordy rambles:
I was super hesitant about doing this. To be honest, I don’t really… care for… freezer meals. I can get down with freezing some leftover soup every now and then but I rarely freeze anything else. I live with a human garbage disposal who eats a ton, many of the recipes I make serve around four people – so if he doesn’t eat it all in one night, it only takes another day or two to finish it off.
I am snobby and really love the taste of FRESH food. I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I didn’t want freezer meals, other than I… just don’t like reheating food from the freezer. There is nothing more that I love than preparing a fresh meal and sharing it.
But. Then you all convinced me on facebook + twitter that I’d be so relieved and thrilled if I made a few meals for when the baby comes. And I started thinking about it and realized that it will be the holiday season – a good length of time where we consume lots of junk and cookies and booze, where we eat out a bunch and don’t always have time for GOOD home-cooked meals, and my mom is really the only other one who cooks full meals regularly and while I know that friends and family will surely bring us some sustenance if needed… it might be take out?
I kept thinking of how much we LOVE getting back in the groove come January, not because it’s cliché and a “oh it’s a new year, time to eat healthy” type of thing, but more so because the holiday parties are over and things can start to feel routine and normal again. Not that my life will ever be normal again, I GET IT. A new normal, if you will.
And then. I got OBSESSED with the idea of freezer meals. Like down right obsessed.
Like could-not-sleep-until-I-got-this-done type of obsessed.
But here’s what I had to do to make it work for me: I determined that I couldn’t think about the meals too much. I literally needed to make them and throw them in the freezer and forget about them in hopes that when the time comes, I will want to eat them all up.
Since this is a little page of transparency, I’ll tell you that a large part of me made these meals for Eddie. He pretty much eats dinner for lunch and dinner for dinner – biiiiig ass meals. I know that even if I’m not interested in eating these exact meals when the time comes (I’m a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person when it comes to dinner), he will gladly eat them up and take them for lunches. They are some of his favorite things.
Many meals I made contain dairy, but I did think about that fact that if I’m nursing, there could be a slight chance that I need to cut dairy out if needed (so many of my friends have had to do this) – so some of the soups are where it’s at for me. We will see!
This is how I did it all: I made a gigantic grocery list of EVERYTHING I needed for the freezer meals. We are talking a HUGE list. I planned on doing it two or three days in a row – I’d get up and get my prioritized work done ASAP and spend a chunk of the day cooking. I only went to the grocery store once and probably looked like I was the poster child for extreme couponing or something based on the pile of food in my (overflowing) cart. It was horrifying.
I blasted music playlists, you tube videos and podcasts while I cooked.
It seems overwhelming, but to be annoyingly frank, it was fairly easy and therapeutic for me. I had all of the ingredients I needed, I didn’t follow many “recipes” because most are my own that I already know, and the lack of having to style and photograph food was the best thing ever. I didn’t need natural light! I could cook when it was dark out! Back when I was testing recipes for Seriously Delish, I would often work on 12 or 13 recipes per day, so I knew that for me, this was doable and could be completed in a matter of days.
In other words, I wasn’t going to rest until this was DONE. Once my list was made, it was set in stone. There was no turning back – I was doing this.
So this is what came out of my kitchen! As a note, we have a fridge in our kitchen and one in our garage – both freezers are now TOTALLY full. I’ll admit that in my insanely hormonal nesting moments, I considered buying one of those huge deep freezer things. But that… would just be ridiculous. Says the person who doesn’t like to eat things out of the freezer.
Well, things other than ice cream and mini chocolate peanut butter cups.
Spicy beer braised chicken enchiladas: I got one pan of 10 enchis.
Lightened up beef enchiladas: again, one pan made 10 enchiladas. I made the enchilada sauce here in a double batch for both.
Pioneer Woman’s chicken spaghetti: this might be Eddie’s dream meal. I split it into four portions.
Smoky white bean chicken chili: split into two portions.
Regular chili: not this exact recipe, but a version of it. split into three portions.
Mother Lovett’s bean soup: perhaps the most comforting food ever to me. split into three portions.
Butternut squash lasagna: the recipe out of Seriously Delish, made in an 8×8 pan.
Roasted vegetable lasagna: split into two portions. I made this up on a whim and it was SO good (I had extra that we ate that week) – come spring I may share the recipe if I decide to make it again.
4 batches of whole wheat pizza dough: this can work double duty if I want to make a pizza recipe for the blog and use whole wheat dough. I made the dough, let it rise, then packaged and froze.
Chicken pot pie: I prepared the filling and bought a package of puff pastry to defrost when the time comes.
Saucy pulled pork: I added some root beer like a bunch of those old school recipes call for because OMG NOSTALGIA. I froze this into two portions.
Make ahead freezer meatballs: this is another recipe in Seriously Delish made with a combo of ground beef and ground turkey. We love them and I plan on using them for pasta and subs! They are frozen in resealable bags.
Taco meat: again, I made a mix of ground turkey and ground beef, split into three portions. I add in bell peppers to the recipe. This almost seemed unnecessary since I can make it super quickly, but I’m thinking at the time it will be appreciated? let’s hope.
Banana bread: um, I made four loaves. I’M A CRAZY PERSON! I was craving it. I used this recipe for three of them because I ran out of butter and that one called for oil.
Pumpkin banilla bread with chocolate chips: just one loaf; another recipe out of Seriously Delish that combines pumpkin, banana and vanilla in, you guessed it! Bread.
Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls: I also had a killer craving for these and the recipe made eight (!!!) pans. In the past I’ve given these away to family on Christmas so that’s the plan, plus keeping a pan or two for us. I love her recipe because it’s so largely scaled. Ha.
Chocolate chip cookie dough: I followed Julie’s instructions to make the dough, freeze it on a baking sheet and then pop it in resealable bags once frozen. This is like, for REAL cookies for us. Not for holiday cookie trays.
I used fancy colored tape and wrote not only the food description on the tape, but the cook temperature, cook time and extra directions (i.e. pot pie) if needed. My freezer meals are covered in hot pink and teal tape. It’s true. DECORATE!
So. How much of a lunatic am I? A gigantic one, I fear. Especially because many nights I will probably want salads and cereal and huge bowls of fresh fruit for dinner. I know that these will not only carry us over into the new year, but also can work for some last minute entertaining near the holidays (like the pulled pork or meatballs for sandwiches, the taco meat for oven nacho appetizers, the cinnamon rolls for holiday brunch, etc). Since everyone is ramming the whole “YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TIME AGAIN” mentality down my throat, I prepared us with piles of food in the freezer. My wacky version of nesting. Stay tuned for part two in a few weeks where I tell you if this was really worth it, or just an excellent coping mechanism when it comes to fearing the final stages of pregnancy.
Now have I scrubbed the kitchen floor with a toothbrush? Nada. If that happens, miracles do exist.
90 Comments on “that one time that I made ten million freezer meals.”
WOW THIS IS AMAZING!! Oh my goodness I’m not pregnant nor will I be for a long time but this is SUCH a good idea and I love the dishes you chose to make!! I am also a FRESH food fan but there is definitely a time and a place for 50 million freezer meals! Way to go!
I love this. I have a 2 year old and a 4 week old and my freezer meals made my life so much easier both times. I always freeze the meals with exact reheat / preparation instructions so my husband can make dinner without “Hun,…how long do I….Do I need to add….etc” :)
For the record….you WILL have time again. Yes, your life and priorities are about to shift in a major way, but if cooking and eating well are important to you these things will quickly make their way into your new “normal.” It did for me. And it’s totally reasonable to be whipping up a fresh meal with a 2 week old in a wrap even though everyone will tell you your crazy. You’re not crazy. Everyone’s “new normal” looks a little different.
Good luck and Thanks for sharing!
You will be SO glad you did this! I did some MAJOR freezer cooking before both of my kids were born – we literally didn’t cook for 2 months. You will be so tired & exhausted from feeding the baby every 2 hours & being up all night – you’ll be so glad to just throw these meals in the oven!
What are the directions for the freezer cinnamon rolls?
i make her rolls all the way up to the point of right before baking – then i freeze. i defrost overnight then bake in the morning! this is how i’ve done it on holidays and have instructed family to do it with pans i give them.
I was just gonna ask that!! What about the icing???
i don’t make her icing because i don’t love maple, i make my own version, but i make it just as i would if baking immediately – make it as the rolls bake and pour it on top when they are hot!
What started a family tradition 38 years ago with my firstborn which was what we term “Cold Plate” – you can cook a brisket in foil for 3+ hours with various sauces while the tyke is napping and slice some down on a platter with anything you want … brie, great bread, tomatoes, carrot sticks, cole slaw, homemade baked beans (that, yes, you have frozen as well as applesauce) etc. and then on the next day during the nap you make soup. Cold Plates also involved pre-roasted chickens, leftover poached salmon, whatever but it was easy and you can use leftovers creatively…
This sounds delicious Randi- thanks for the idea. Perfect for this season in my life as well :)
What do you cover the aluminum pans in? Foil? I’ve only every frozen things in bags to cook in the crockpot but I am fascinated by the concept of enchiladas on a Tuesday night…
What do you cover the aluminum pans with before freezing? More foil? A lid? I’ve only ever one stuff in freezer bags for the crockpot and this concept of being able to have enchiladas on a Tuesday fascinates me.
some of the foil pans come with lids and while i’m sure that may suffice if you’re freezing for a week or two, i wasn’t sure how long these would be frozen – so i did multiple layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil! i will remove it before baking though.
Okay, so this is the greatest post ever. I am not pregnant, but you have convinced me to make freezer meals for the future. Chef always gets off work so late, and I always lollygag while waiting for him, and then I’m serving dinner at 1 am. Yes, it’s happened.
But question– what type of pans are those you used? Do they come with lids?! I’m asking for.. a friend. Can’t wait to hear baby news!
i had some aluminum foil pans leftover and used those (along with other disposables i already had) – you can get them with lids – i made sure to wrap mine sooo tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap, then a few layers of aluminum foil, then cover with a lid if it had one!
Love, love, love this. I filled the freezer before I had my daughter and it was a lifesaver! Such a nice thing to do for a friend who is expecting, too. Thanks for the post!
You are my hero, this is amazing!!!
You will be so, so glad! I did a big cooking day like that with my first, and with my second (she’s now 4 months!) I started earlier and just made double batches of things over the last 6 weeks until I had a pretty good stockpile. I definitely got back to “normal” cooking routines sooner with baby #2 (trying to keep things normal for my three-year-old!), but it is so glorious to be able to just thaw something on long days. We actually pulled your crockpot garlic shredded pot roast from the freezer tonight! :o)
I love all of your freezer meals. At least you’ll be eating good homemade food. All of it sounds delicious. I can’t wait to see how your blog evolves now that you will be a mom. :)
This is awesome. I so wanted to do this both times I was pregnant and never did. I love the idea of being prepared. Great job mama!
OMG! You are a rockstar! Can we see a picture of the inside of your freezer?!
Awesome! Listen, don’t let people freak you out. Having a baby isn’t THAT big of a deal. Until he/she is like two your life will be pretty similar to what it is now. Sure, you’ll have to be more organized in order to get stuff done, but you’ll be fine. And no, I didn’t have one of those amazing babies who slept several hours a day (he only took seven minute naps until he was 12 months old, for real). I had a regular, fussy, baby and it wasn’t as big of a deal as people make it out to be. Until he was like 18 months old I just strapped him into a front pack and went about my day. You won’t be the same, but you won’t be that different. But I guess it’s good that people have prepared you for the worst because you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Also, babies are the BEST. You’ll love it.
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I’m due in six weeks and just bookmarked this page for my cooking extravaganza over the winter holiday break. (I work in education.) Thanks so much for sharing!
This will be me in another two months. I am not a huge fan of freezer meals but I know I will be so happy once it is done. Plus my husband eats a ton too. Although he cooks I am not going to be cleaning up the kitchen after him. Pinning for the future.
Wow! You are so awesome!!! You will totally appreciate your freezer full of yummy dishes.
I think this is a great idea and really, kudos to you for taking the time to do this buuuut some of the dishes seem spicy which wouldn’t be the best thing to eat with a newborn if you’re nursing. Just wanted to throw it out there, not to be a downer! If anything, Eddie can eat them all.
Looking forward to reading about your baby when you have him or her! My birthday is next week so we’ll probably have close birthdays :)
I love this! I also am BAD about stashing things in the freezer and then letting them go to waste because I want something new and frseh, but these recipes sound good enough that I would actually eat them! I will have to try this next time I know I have a busy period coming up.
thank you for this! I am due in feb. and will make some of these delish recipes in jan! how’s mama-hood treating you?!
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I’m sorry if I have missed this somewhere on the site. I am expecting my first in a couple months and am thinking ahead. I wonder if you found this worth it and useful? We don’t usually eat a lot of freezer food and I don’t want to waste the time if it’s not worth it!
hi jen! congrats! here is my update: http://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/02/that-one-time-that-i-made-ten-million-freezer-meals-part-two/
I’m sorry about that. Right there in front of my face… I am blaming baby brain! Thank you!!
I need to bookmark this post. My fiancé and I are going to be home owners soon and we get up ridiculously early 6 days a week (ok him 6 me 5 as I work later on Saturdays but anyway…). I have this dream that we’ll have meal plans and be all organized in the kitchen and have meals in the freezer we’ve made before hand that we can just pop in the oven and enjoy. Hopefully I can make this happen*.
Thank-you so much for the tips and recipes!
Though I can’t remember how big the freezer in the house is…hmm
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